Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wednesday Roundup: The Michigan Hog Controversy

03/28/2012

Large phone companies tried to push a bill through the Kentucky legislature that would relieve them of their responsibility for providing landline service across the state, but that effort failed.

Now, Ohio. 

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, "Customers in some parts of Ohio might be unable to get basic landline phone service under a bill moving through the state legislature, a group of consumer advocates warned on Monday." 

The proposed law would allow phone companies to withdraw basic landline services if there are other companies operating somewhere in that same service area. That would allow gaps in service that don't exist now — particularly in rural areas.

“Some customers would likely lose their phone service,” said Michael Smalz, a senior attorney with the Ohio Poverty Law Center. “They would lose the service they could afford, the cheapest available service and the only service they think they need.”

• The state of Michigan has swine breeders in an absolute uproar — and it has independent breeders that the state is "in cahoots" with big pig producers.

The state has issued an order under its invasive species regulations aimed at controlling feral hogs. The regulation was written in such a way, however, that it would ban a number of heritage swine breeds. The state will make it illegal to own any pig species that is likely to survive in the wild.

To tell you the truth, this story is so crazy it's hard to sort it out. The state did issue an order. It does ban certain breeds of hog. It does list certain "traits" of "feral pigs" that include hair color, being born with striped hair or having "erect ear structure." It does require that these hogs be destroyed by April 1.

Here is the state order.

Raisers of heritage breeds believe the ruling will put them out of business. At least one hog raiser, Mark Baker at Baker's Green Acres, has filed a complaint aimed at stopping the state from destroying his herd. (Here is a copy of the complaint, or click on it above.)  And here is a very good YouTube about Baker's Green Acres fight against the state.  Or click on the YouTube at the top of this story.

Breeders of Mangalitsas pigs have asked for clarification and the state has said these swine "do not exhibit characteristics listed" in the state order." But a mix of Mangalitsas and some other breed — well, that's a different matter.

The reports have gotten rather, well, wild. Nature News reports that the "state of Michigan seriously intends to unleash a mass murder spree of pigs of the wrong color beginning April 1."  

The thinking among some swine breeders is that the order is aimed at reducing the number of specialty breeders in favor of large pork producers. Mark Baker's complaint makes this argument:

Now, the (state) has issued an Invasive Species Order (ISO) which literally outlaws every pig in the State of Michigan. Then, in an obvious concession to special interest groups, the (state) exempts pigs used in undefined "domestic hog production." Although according to Legislative definitions Plaintiff is engaged in precisely that activity, nonetheless he is informed by the (state) that his particular breeds of pig are prohibited while the breeds of pig used in large factory-style pork production facilities are lawful, even though they are all the same species.

• Reuters has a story on two conflicting trends in world agriculture.

While the need for more food is pressing farmers to apply more herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers in order to boost production, those technologies are starting to lose their edge. 

" Some growers have found they must use more chemicals to combat the very weeds and crop-damaging pests that biotech seeds were engineered to address," Reuters reports. 

• On March 18, wind accounted for almost 24 percent of the electricity on the grid serving 80 percent of Texas. That was a record — 7,917 megawatts of electricity. 

It was a windy day, for sure, allowing the state to use about 85 percent of its wind capacity.

• On a party line vote, Republicans in the House rejected a proposal that would have required the Federal Communications Commission from considering the effect on rural broadband before issuing any new rule or regulation, the Watertown Daily Times reports

The proposal was offered by Rep. William Owens of Plattsburgh, in northern New York.